NITJ-INDIA

“CPIE-2007” 22-24 March

VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL SURFACE TRAVERSING ROBOT: DESIGN APPROACH
Anil E. Magare1, Nitesh P. Yelve1, Amit U. Kulkarni2, Amit P. Kudva2, Dhananjay A. Ipparthi2 Lecturer1, Student2, Department of Mechanical Engineering Fr.C.Rodrigues Institute of Technology, Vashi, Navi Mumbai-400 703 Email address: anilmagare@rediffmail.com, niteshpy@yahoo.co.in, amit_k_mech@yahoo.co.in, kudva_amit@yahoo.co.in, Ipparthi@gmail.com. ABSTRACT: In the applications such as surveillance of sites, inspections of buildings, nuclear vessels, etc. where sending human beings might be difficult and more importantly dangerous, alternate solutions should be considered. Under these circumstances, wall climbing robots, are proven to be the best solution. However most wall climbing robots that exist today are robots that work on surface specific principles; as a result one robot can not easily be used for more complex textured surfaces. Hence, an attempt is made to design a wall climbing robot VHST (Vertical and Horizontal Surface Traverser) which is cheap and has versatile wall traversing abilities. The objective of this robot would be ability to traverse over various textures and have sufficient payload capacity, thereby rendering it more versatile. Its working principle along with model created in I-DEAS software and its advantages over other robots of its family are explained. KEYWORDS: Wall climbing robot, VHST 1. I TRODUCTIO : With the increase in the popularity of nuclear programs [Luk], sophistication in sleuth operations and desired automation in inspection of buildings, planes etc. the necessity of robots that traverse vertical surfaces is felt. As a result various institutions have put in their efforts to develop such robots. Gecko [Cepolina, 2003] and Stickybot are robots that use small suction cups for sticking to the wall. Also robots with adhesive feet are widely proposed [Menon, 2004].But these have limitations of surface texture and are suitable for only particular surfaces. Another problem is that they employ reciprocating motion which is less efficient, slow and has complicated controls. During automation the programming becomes tougher due to the sheer complexity of the motion involved.

Fig. 1 VRAM VMRP(VRAM Mobile Robot Platform), shown in Fig. 1, made by Vortex HC has a very versatile design and is able to adapt to a variety of surfaces ranging from glazed surfaces like glass to concrete or brick surfaces. The basic principle involves creation of turbulence, with the help of a motor-impeller arrangement, in the form of a tornado within a donut. A

1

NITJ-INDIA

“CPIE-2007” 22-24 March

low pressure is created due to it which keeps the robot adhered to the wall. The robot moves around with the help of wheels. [www.vortexhc.com] Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) has developed wall climbing robots in India for the automatic inspection of their nuclear reactors thus eliminating hazards for humans. A pneumatically operated, compact and modular Wall Climbing Robot (WCR), with a pay load of 5 kg, was developed for the inspection of large vertical surfaces, in these hazardous environments. [www.dae.gov.in] 2. BASIC PRI CIPLE The VRAM is the only robot which has surface versatility along with the other advantage of ease of motion. A similar concept is applied for this wall climbing robot, the VHST (Vertical and Horizontal Surface Traverser). Thus the robot uses a motor-impeller arrangement to produce the adhesive force and a separate system for translation. The VRAM uses the concept of recirculation of air where the same air is recirculates in the cup. The suction force depends on the difference between the static and the dynamic pressure created as a result of the forced vortex in the cup Instead, in the VHST the concept of direct suction (suck and throw) was used. The air is sucked from the underbelly of the robot and thrown out instead of recirculation. The gap between the wall and the cup would be virtually sealed by a soft material film which conforms to the shape of the wall in case of small irregularities which helps maintain the drop in pressure. 2.1 Cup Instead of allowing the air to be thrown out from the side of the impeller directly, the kinetic energy of the expelled air could be harnessed to develop better adhesion between the wall and the robot. For this purpose the cup that encloses the impeller would be shaped in the form of a frustum which effects this action.

Fig. 2 Basic working of the frustum cup In the VHST the air coming out from the side of the impeller was isolated from the air moving in. The impeller would suck in the air from the underside of the robot. The air coming out from the side of the impeller would be guided upwards by a frustum shaped cup, as shown in Fig 2. The direction of the air is changed when it hits the frustum shaped cup. This change in direction or momentum of air exerts a force on the cup. The force obtained further assists the adhesion of the robot to the wall. 2.2 Impeller Another advantage of the direct suction principle is that an impeller of decreasing thickness (shown in Fig.3) can be used which are known to have better properties. The use of the same was tested with recirculation and the adhesive force was observed to decrease. This profile leads to increase in average distance of the impeller from the wall thus decreasing the velocity of the air. Consequently the difference in the static and dynamic pressures decreases leading to lesser adhesive force. This problem is not observed in direct suction.

Fig. 3 Impeller of decreasing thickness 3. PARAPHER ELIA 3.1 Stepper motors For the translation of the robot four motors were to be used for all the wheels for a reliable drive. The motors were required to

2

NITJ-INDIA

“CPIE-2007” 22-24 March

have good torque to take the weight of the robot, give variable speed according to the requirement of the surface and have low weight and small size. Common DC motors, due to the requirement of a gear system for speed reduction for lower speeds were found to be bulky. So instead stepper motors were used as they easily satisfied all the requirements mentioned above. 3.2 Body The body of the robot is of outmost importance. It should be sufficiently rigid to carry the load on the robot, withstand the vibrations from the high speed motor used for suction and not deform under load. At the same time it should not add to the weight of the robot unnecessarily. So instead of a solid body a frame shaped body would prove beneficial. It would also provide for better cooling of the stepper motors 3.3 Wheels The wheels are wide based plastic wheels. The wheel should be light yet sturdy.

A computer generated model of the robot is shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4 Computer generated model of VHST (bottom view) 4. CO TROL SYSTEM To control the four stepper motors, in terms of orientation as well as speed control microcontrollers are employed. The advantage of using microcontrollers is that, at a later stage, it would be easier to make the robot autonomous and make it follow a fixed route if required. The basic block diagram of the control system is shown in Fig. 5.

Fig. 5 Block diagram of the control system circuitry

3

NITJ-INDIA

“CPIE-2007” 22-24 March

The circuit consists of the following basic parts: 4.1 Rectifier The input for the circuit is a 12V DC taken from a rectifier. After further filtering, the microcontroller gets a voltage of 5 Volts DC. The AC motor used for suction however is powered independently from a regular 230V AC power supply. 4.2 Microcontroller The microcontroller employed in the VHST is a Phillips 89C51RD2 4.3 I/O Ports Of the four ports, one is used for output to the motors- four pins of the port are used for the right segment and four for the left. For speed variation interrupts are to be used so that the speed variation can take place even during the motion of the robot. For this assigned interrupt pins P3.2 and P3.3 are used. Four pins of another port are connected to the direction inputs from the console. 4.4 Drivers The motors run on 12 V DC; however the output of the microcontroller is 5V DC hence for amplification of current the chip ULN2003 is used. RS232D cable is used to interface the circuit to the computer and write the program onto the microcontroller. 5. PROGRAMMI G Programming of the microcontroller is done using C language in the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) Keil µVision2 and the code is burnt on to the microcontroller using the software Flash Magic. The program takes in six inputs which decide its direction and speed of the robotfour for direction and two for speed variation. For programming purposes the robot is divided into two halves- left and right. The following table indicates the direction of rotation of the motors during the various motions. The logic of the program is adopted from Table 1.

Table 1: Rotation of motors for various Motions of robot Left Right Segment Segment Forward Anti-clock Clock Backward Right Left Clock Anti-clock Clock Anti-clock Anti-clock Clock

The stepper motor has four input wires which determine its motion i.e. the direction of motion and the speed. Another wire supplies the positive potential to the motor maintained at 12V. The stepper motor is powered by a predetermined sequence shown in Table 2. Table 2: Stepper motor Sequence Black Brown Orange Yellow Red 1 --+ 2 --+ 3 --+ 4 --+ The console has 6 buttons. Of the six buttons, four are used to give the direction and two are used for varying the speed of the robot. 6. CALCULATIO S: 6.1 Suction force requirement total weight = weight of the vehicle to be carried + payload = 2 kg Taking the coefficient of friction, µ = 0.33 friction force = µ × suction force Also, Friction force = weight to be carried Suction force = weight to be carried / µ = 2 / 0.33 = 6 kgf

6.2 Increase in adhesive force A simplified diagram of the impeller cup arrangement is shown in Fig 6.

4

NITJ-INDIA

“CPIE-2007” 22-24 March

Now calculating the increase in force due to the new design of the cup, Force = change in momentum = m (v2 – v1) / t But since the initial velocity of air in horizontal direction, the velocity in the vertical direction is ‘0’, i.e., v1 = 0 Now, Force = (m v2 )/ t = ρQ v2 = ρQ2 / a Taking the internal and external diameters of the outlet as 9cm and 11cm, the force calculated is Force = 7.81 Fig. 6 Impeller-Cup arrangement Consider an elemental area of radius ‘r’ and thickness ‘dr’. Inlet diameter of impeller = 25 mm Outlet diameter of impeller = 90mm Applying energy equation to the flow without considering any loses: V2 / 2g + P / ρg = Va2 / 2g + Pa / ρg + power head Where V = velocity of air in m/s Va = velocity of atmospheric air =0 P = pressure, /m2 Pa = atmospheric pressure, /m2 Power head = power / flow rate = 100 / Q Now, F = ∫ PdA Now, Also, dA = 2πr dr V = Q / area = Q / 2πr × t t = distance between the impeller and wall = 2 mm = 2 × 10-3m 7. TESTS A D RESULTS Tests are first carried out with a 100 Watt motor-impeller arrangement with a self weight of ½ kg. The suction force obtained by recirculation is noted as 1 kgf. Though an impeller with decreasing vane profile is known to have better characteristics compared to a uniform thickness impeller, it is found to be unsuitable when used for the principle of recirculation. By studying the parameters involved and the geometry of the components the rate of flow of air is calculated under suitable assumptions. Further the rise in the adhesive force is obtained. The formal calculations indicate a rise in the adhesion force by 70%. As the suction force obtained from the above is not as high as required for the robot a 600 Watt motor-impeller arrangement is used. As the concept of recirculation is not involved an impeller of varying cross-section is used. The recirculation of air is minimized by a rubber cup which isolates the inlet and outlet from the impeller. The suction force obtained from the arrangement was measured to be 8 kgf which is enough to carry the robot as well as any other small equipment it needs to carry

Where

Substituting and solving, we get Q = 0.143 m3 /s

5

NITJ-INDIA

“CPIE-2007” 22-24 March

8. CO CLUSIO The amount of suction force required is calculated. Different motor-impeller arrangements are tried out and the suction force was measured. From the test results suitable motor and impeller is selected. Inlet and outlet from the impeller is isolated to improve suction force. The circuit for control of motion of the robot is designed and developed. The suction force produced by VHST is independent of the texture of the surface. The calculations indicate an increase of 70% in the adhesive force with the given principle over recirculation. The designed robot has simplicity of operation and can be used for various applications with little or no change.

Using the frustum cup adhesion can be further improved and progress is been done this direction. The robot can also be made autonomous by further developing the control system. 9. REFERE CES Cepolina F., Michelini R.C., Razolli R.P., Zoppi M., (2003), On- Gecko, a climbing robot for wall cleaning, 1st international workshop on advances in service robotics Luk B.L., Collie A.A., Cooke D. S. and Chen S., On-Walking and Climbing Service Robots for Safety Inspection of Nuclear Reactor Pressure Vessels Menon C., Murphy M., Sitti M., (2004), On-Gecko Inspired Surface Climbing Robots, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO)

6